Soup Quest!

Welcome to the OLINsider! Olin’s premiere and only current student blog is up and running for the 2015-2016 school year, and with that we have a host of new bloggers. Go Class of 2019! My name is Audrey Lewis, I’m from Austin, TX, and I’m excited to be one of your student bloggers this year.

But enough about me, let’s talk about food.


I’m a vegetarian; I have been all my life. My great-grandmother became vegetarian in Holland in WWII, and she never went back, passing the diet down to her kids, who passed it to theirs, who passed it to me. The whole process means my sister and I are four generations removed from meat.

Austin is a vegetarian friendly community, maybe 1 in 20 of the kids in my high school were vegetarian. But it doesn’t have anything on Olin. By my count, my class has 9 vegetarians and 2 vegans, which is more like 1 in 8. The Olin dining hall does a pretty good job accommodating this, all things considered, but sometimes you’re just out of luck. And when nothing is good in the dining hall, there is one option you can always turn to: the soup.

Soup Alcove

The Olin College soup alcove.

Seriously, always. The rest of the dining hall fare ranges from “tasty!” to “what?” but the vegetarian soup option is ever present and consistently good, and when you’re adjusting to a completely new school, something consistent in your routine makes all the difference.

So I made it my mission to try all the soup in the dining hall. “I bet they have some sort of weekly rotation,” I thought to myself, “I’ll just try all the different varieties, and then I’ll know on which days to have soup.” And so my epic Soup Quest was born. Surprisingly though, it still isn’t finished. I’ve had soup every day for over two weeks with no repeats I can remember. (I’d say so far that the mushroom and barley is the best, but potato with dill is a close second). I’ve learned a lot about soup in these past two weeks, but here’s a story about one more thing Soup Quest taught me.

Yesterday, I came out of a Design Nature lecture to discover that the dining hall staff had taken the day’s soup out of its alcove and put it in the main line for the first time. Unsurprisingly, a far larger portion of my dining hall companions had bowls that day, and it coincided nicely with the lesson we had just left. The punchline was that as engineers, we should be wary of certain rules in our society, and be ready to break them. They weren’t rules like how much budget we had or how safe we had to be in the shop, but implied social rules like “a hopper jumps upward, not sideways” or “your design should have legs, not wheels.” The implied rule of the dining hall was the order people went through the line in: entrée, grill, salad, drinks, table. Soup rarely factored in, simply because it was in an alcove outside of the main serving area.

Don’t be afraid to break rules at Olin – whether they’re engineering or social. Your experience will be all the more delicious for it!

Audrey eating soup



Posted in: Audrey '19